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Digester construction at least one to two years away

Staff say if project not approved, region would need to expand incincerator

Mirka Januszkiewicz, the region’s director of waste management, says that if the anaerobic digester project isn’t approved then the region will have to look at expanding the incinerator.

By Graeme McNaughton/The Oshawa Express

The Region of Durham could be looking for the builder of its anaerobic digester as soon as next year should regional council vote to go ahead with the project.

However, if the project doesn’t get the thumbs up, it could lead to the expansion of the region’s incinerator.

That’s according to Gioseph Annello, the region’s manager of waste planning and technical services, who says that should councillors approve the business case for the digester, it would be one to two years before the digester comes to fruition.

Annello says that the business case, which will outline the pros and cons of going ahead with such a project, should be in councillors’ hands before the summer recess.

“We have a draft business case that we have to review now, so we’re getting to that point where if there are some significant changes, and we don’t know that yet, then it’s going to delay things,” he says.

“The objective is to get the business case to council before summer recess. We’re hoping that’s enough time.”

Annello says the business case will look at the potential costs of going ahead with such a project, as well as the various types of anaerobic digestion available and what can be done with the gas that is created – it can be made into a biofuel for vehicles or can be used to generate electricity – and compare that to the region’s current method of dealing with organic waste.

“There’s no decisions on the technology, there’s no decisions on the siting, there’s no decisions on the use of the energy afterwards,” he says of the business case.

“The only thing we’re getting out of this is does this make sense going forward.”

However, the region is facing a potential time crunch when it comes to making the decision on whether to go ahead with this project. As stated in the latest meeting of regional council and again at last week’s meeting of the Energy From Waste-Waste Management Advisory Committee by Mirka Januszkiewicz, the region’s director of waste management, the contract for the region’s current compost facility expires next year.

Januszkiewicz says that should the anaerobic digester project not get approved, the region will have to look at expanding the Durham York Energy Centre, as it is already reaching capacity.

“We will not have any option. We will have to expand the EFW. I am already scrambling, in 2017, because our allotment for the capacity at the EFW, we’ve already exceeded it,” she said during the committee meeting.

Januszkiewicz says that the reason the site is already reaching capacity so soon after its opening is because the model used to determine how much waste could be handled at the site was based on a gradual slide to a 70-per-cent diversion rate for the region’s trash, meaning fewer recyclables and compostable items were in garbage bags. However, the region’s diversion rate sits at 55 per cent.

“We have to find room somewhere, and this would mean we would have to expand the energy from waste facility.”

The Durham York Energy Centre has a capacity of 140,000 tonnes of residential garbage per year.